Weekly Wrap-Up (September 30)

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I can’t quite believe I’ve been home for a full week already. Tuscany was glorious and warm as always and I had a wonderful time.

Except for the tiger mosquito plague. I’m not entirely sure why mosquitoes love me as much as they do but I wish they didn’t. I stopped counting at thirty bites and ended up coming home looking like someone suffering from the plague. I had one massive bite on a little toe that sadly meant I was unable to fit into any type of shoe for the first few days.

Now you’d think that being unable to go anywhere meant I was reading up a storm instead on my comfy lounger by the pool. But no. I read a measly two books on holiday. Two! That’s completely unheard of. Even worse, I didn’t miss it. Not for a second. Which, considering I had three tour commitments to fulfil upon my return, meant that I had lost all my carefully collected Zen by Tuesday 😂. (and a nagging husband who couldn’t help but rub in how many books I took with me but never even touched)

This weekly wrap-up is also a monthly wrap-up. So let’s see how hugely unsuccessful my reading was in September.


Books I read this month

That’s right. Count them. I’ll help. It’s nine. 9!!!! In a whole bloody month! Four and a half of those I read this past week in a desperate attempt to catch up. So wrong.


Books I’ve bought this month

Filling a few gaps in my Orenda collection and I couldn’t resist Harriet Monckton.


ARC’s received via Netgalley

Plus one I’m not allowed to talk about yet 😊


Bookpost that landed on my doorstep this past month

I could have sworn I’d taken pictures of these but I can’t find them anywhere so the covers will have to do for now. With thanks to Dome Press (for None So Blind by Alis Hawkins, which isn’t pictured), Transworld, Michael Joseph and Killer Reads.


On the blog in September

September 3rd : Shared my review for Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid

September 4th : Joined the blog tour for The Spy’s Gamble by Howard Kaplan

September 5th : Reviewed The Night She Died by Jenny Blackhurst

September 6th : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for The Angel’s Mark by S.W. Perry

September 7th : Shared my review for The Rival by Charlotte Duckworth

*dance break*

September 11th : Joined the blog tour for Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

September 13th : Joined the blog tour for Perfect Silence by Helen Fields

*dance break take two*

September 25th : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for the phenomenal The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

September 26th : Joined the blog tour for After He Died by Michael J. Malone

September 28th : Joined the blog blitz for The Birthday by Carol Wyer

September 29th : Joined the blog tour for The Anniversary by Hilary Boyd

Good to see I took it easy. 🙄


Next week on Novel Deelights

Monday : Review | In Her Shadow by Mark Edwards

Tuesday : Blog tour | Guest Post | One Perfect Witness by Pat Dixon

Wednesday : Blog tour | Review | Tell Nobody by Patricia Gibney

Thursday : Blog tour | Review | The Paris Secret by Lily Graham

Friday : Blog tour | Review | Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner

Saturday : Blog tour | Guest Post + review | The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

Ah, back to normal. Wonderful. 😳

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And that’s it! I haven’t checked out any of your blogs because the mere thought is just too overwhelming to contemplate. But do please feel free to point me in the right direction if there’s anything you really want me to see!

I’m spending the afternoon with my dad, who by now has probably forgotten what I look like because it’s been a while. Hope whatever it is you have planned for today is wonderful and you’re enjoying your weekend.

Wishing you lots of happy reading. Until next time! xx

The Anniversary by Hilary Boyd @HilaryBoyd @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90 #blogtour #TheAnniversary

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Author : Hilary Boyd
Title : The Anniversary
Pages : 403
Publisher : Michael Joseph / Penguin UK
Publication date :

aboutthebook

Stella once thought that if she never saw Jack again, it would be too soon.

But life has other plans for her and her stubborn, handsome ex-husband.

Looking after their daughter in a time of need, Stella finds herself unwillingly reunited with the man she shared the best years of her life with – followed by the worst.

Where tragedy once tore them apart, now Stella and Jack are being drawn back together. But each of them has a new partner and a new life.

Should they fight temptation? Should the past remain the past? Or are some loves simply meant to be?

mythoughts

Here is something I often wonder about. A relationship fails, people move on and live their separate lives, and then one day, sometimes even decades later, they find each other again and decide to give things another go. Why? Do people change that much? What happened to the thing that made them split up in the first place? Is it no longer an issue?

Meet Jack and Stella. Once happily married, they have now been divorced for over two decades. Jack has remarried, Stella has a longtime partner and they haven’t seen each other in years. But now their daughter needs help and Jack and Stella will be bumping into each other on a regular basis, whether they like it or not.

There’s an especially devastating event that caused their marriage to hit the rocks back in the day. Neither has dealt with it particularly well. This is definitely the case for Stella, who has built a rock solid wall around her heart to protect herself. But this behaviour has had an effect on a lot of people, including her daughter. And for myself, as the reader, I found her quite hard to warm to.

The Anniversary is an emotional story about family, grief and loss with complex characters trying to navigate through complicated relationships. Any child of divorced parents knows how difficult it can be to have both parental units in the same place but in this case, there is also a massive elephant in the room and a need to somehow let go of the past.

This novel has you rooting for the characters and wishing for a happy ending. Although maybe not all that surprising with regard to the plot, it’s the characters that make this a wonderfully immersive and poignant read.

The Anniversary is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Hilary Boyd was a nurse, marriage counsellor and ran a small cancer charity before becoming an author. She has written eight books, including Thursdays in the Park, her debut novel which sold over half a million copies and was an international bestseller. The film rights have been acquired by Charles Dance, who will be directing and starring.

Author links : Twitter | Website

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The Birthday by Carol Wyer @carolewyer @bookouture #blogblitz #bookreview #TheBirthday

Ridiculously excited to finally be able to share my review for The Birthday by Carol Wyer on the blog blitz today! My thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for the invitation to join and for my review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

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Author : Carol Wyer
Title : The Birthday
Series : DI Natalie Ward #1
Pages : 316
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : September 27, 2018

aboutthebook

When five-year-old Ava Sawyer goes missing from a birthday party at a local garden centre, the police are bewildered by the lack of leads. That is until two years later, when Ava’s body is found and another little girl, Audrey Briggs, goes missing. Audrey also attended that party …

Leading the investigation is Detective Natalie Ward . A mother of two teenagers, this case chills her to the bone, and is a disturbing reminder of the last job she worked on. One that ended very badly.

Natalie soon discovers that Ava’s mother has some worrying gaps in her alibi and as she digs deeper, she’s sure Ava’s father is not telling the full story. And what did the owner of the garden centre Elsa see that day? Something that she’s not telling Natalie …

Just as Natalie is facing up to the grim possibility that Ava and Audrey were killed by someone close to home, another little girl from the party doesn’t come home from her ballet lesson. Can Natalie find a way to stop this killer before more innocent lives are taken?

mythoughts

Having been a massive fan of Carol Wyer’s other series centred around Robin Carter, I was slightly wary about her tackling a new crime fiction police procedural. Not because of her writing, which I knew would be brilliant, but because of meeting new characters and wondering if I’d even like them after becoming so invested in Robin and her team.

Silly me.

Five year old Ava Sawyer goes missing from a birthday party at a garden centre. Despite an intensive investigation, Ava is not found. Two years later, builders find her body. DI Natalie Ward and her team are given the case but just when they think they are dealing with a cold case, another girl who attended that same birthday party goes missing. Coincidence? If so, why now? Is the same person responsible? Are these two events connected in any way or not?

Natalie Ward is a wife, a mother and a detective inspector. With so many balls to juggle, it’s easy to see why not everything is all sunshine and flowers in her life. Leading an investigation into missing children is always hard but for Natalie even more so, as she’s still suffering effects from a previous investigation that ended badly. Determined not to make the same mistakes again, she’s incredibly meticulous and working long hours to stop another child from being taken. But the culprit is on a mission and the clock is ticking.

A new team of detectives to get acquainted with then and I must say, this one works really well again. There’s enough diversity, determination and banter to give you a good feel of the team dynamics. These characters completely won me over and I really look forward to getting to know them all better.

With The Birthday, Carol Wyer once again delivers all the goodness I’ve come to expect from her. There are a few chapters delving into the background of the culprit that lead you to that point of almost, but not quite, sympathising with them. Chapters that will have you looking for clues, trying to figure things out before the big reveal. The investigation is incredibly gripping, albeit frustrating for the detectives, and I was left guessing until the end as to the identity of Ava’s killer. Not that I didn’t have a list of suspects as long as my arm but I was hit with dead end after dead end and true to form, got it utterly wrong. On top of that, the heartbreaking moments when families need to be informed. The devastation, the various ways people deal with the grief … it almost made me quite emotional.

It seems everything Carol Wyer touches turns to gold. She most definitely knows how to write an addictive and tense page-turner and this one is no different. Compelling from the first page, this will have you hooked in a heartbeat. The DI Natalie Ward is a fantastic start to what I’m sure will be an exciting new series. Will Natalie ever find the perfect balance between her job and her private life? And what other crimes will be coming her way? I can’t wait to find out!

The Birthday is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UKGoodreads

abouttheauthor

Carol Wyer garnered a loyal following as an author of romantic comedies, and won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015). In 2017 she stepped from comedy to the “dark side” and embarked on a series of thrillers, featuring the popular DI Robyn Carter, which earned her recognition as a crime writer.

The Staffordshire-based writer now has more crime novels in the pipeline, although she can still sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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After He Died by Michael J. Malone @michaelJmalone1 @OrendaBooks @annecater #blogtour #bookreview #AfterHeDied

Thrilled to bits to join the blog tour for After He Died by Michael J. Malone today, alongside one of my favourite people, Karen at My Reading Corner. Make sure you check out her review as well. Huge thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my review copy and to Anne Cater for inviting me to join the tour.

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Author : Michael J. Malone
Title : After He Died
Pages : 295
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : September 20, 2018

aboutthebook

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…

When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.

mythoughts

If you haven’t yet introduced yourself to Michael J. Malone’s books, you are missing out on an amazingly talented author. If there’s one thing I love about his work, it is that I never quite know what to expect when I pick up one his books. But I do know I’m in for a treat as he always delivers a most devilish tale.

After He Died once again shows of Michael J. Malone’s ability to diversify so if you’re expecting something along the lines of the gothic greatness that was House of Spines or the extremely powerful A Suitable Lie, this isn’t it. This one is quite different, again, yet awesome in its own right. And that’s exactly why this author should be on everyone’s bookshelf.

Paula’s husband dies unexpectedly from a heart attack. During these hard times and feeling lost in a mental fog, the last thing she needs is a woman coming up to her at the funeral to tell her there are things she should know about her late husband, Thomas. But that’s exactly what happens when Paula is approached by Cora.

This domestic noir / psychological thriller had me on the edge of my seat. It’s a dark, utterly absorbing and incredibly addictive page-turner. All throughout the story you wonder what Thomas had been up to, if anything, and if there’s anyone Paula can trust. While I thought I had a few things figured out, I couldn’t connect the dots at all and I was left guessing until the end, when a massive curveball completely threw me for a loop.

Michael J. Malone is an incredible storyteller and has delivered a complex and character-driven story that had me hooked from start to finish. His writing style is utterly absorbing. I adore the realistic touches like the Scottish dialect since this story is set in Glasgow, which wasn’t too confusing to follow so I didn’t have to hit up my Scottish chum to ask what the heck the characters were saying. A pacy read, a thrilling ride and a mind-blowing conclusion … what more could you possibly want?

This is one exciting author who quickly shot his way up my list of go-to authors and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

After He Died is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a  Spines soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

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The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater #blogtour #bookreview #recommended #mustread

I’m beyond delighted to join the blog tour for The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech today! Massive thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my gorgeous (and embossed!) copy and to Anne Cater for inviting me to join the tour!

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Author : Louise Beech
Title : The Lion Tamer Who Lost
Pages : 323
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : September 20, 2018

aboutthebook

Long ago Andrew made a childhood wish. One he has always kept in a silver box with a too-big lid that falls off. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn’t…

Long ago Ben dreamed of going to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally goes there, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…

Ben and Andrew keep meeting where they least expect. Some collisions are by design, but are they for a reason? Ben’s father would disown him for his relationship with Andrew, so they must hide their love. Andrew is determined to make it work, but secrets from his past threaten to ruin everything.

Ben escapes to Zimbabwe to finally fulfil his lifelong ambition. But will he ever return to England? To Andrew? To the truth?

mythoughts

Good grief. I need a minute. Or a lie-down. Or maybe a few stiff drinks to get past this huge lump in my throat.

I don’t really consider myself a particularly emotional person (although I did once cry at a diaper commercial but that’s another story), yet somehow Louise Beech always manages to rip out my heart, stomp all over it and leave me a big, unattractive, blubbering mess.

We first meet Ben in the magnificent surroundings of Zimbabwe, where he’s volunteering at a lion sanctuary. It’s rather obvious from the start that Ben is trying to run away from something or someone but the what or the who is only teasingly revealed  and it took me a while to figure it all out. Back in England, we get to know Andrew. He’s a children’s author with a long outstanding wish. But when his wish comes true, he wishes it hadn’t. I’m not telling you any more than that. You need to just jump into this novel and be completely swept away.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a powerful, tragic and incredibly emotional love story. With realistic and believable characters that almost jump from the pages, I quickly found myself utterly invested in their lives. Their pain was my pain, their tears were my tears, their heartache was my heartache. What an incredible talent Louise Beech has to evoke all these emotions.

This beautifully written tale is not to be raced through or devoured. Every single word on every single page is to be savoured, to be cherished, to be felt deep down into your very core. It’s so hard to explain but it’s just … special. Original, compelling, emotive, exquisite and in case you weren’t able to tell, it left me lost for words but it is a gem of a book I will treasure forever.

This is the fourth book by Louise Beech I’ve read and I can never find the right words (or any words really) to do them any justice. She is the most amazing storyteller and if you’ve not yet read any of her novels, you’re doing yourself an extremely big disservice. Start with this one, work your way back. I promise you will thank me later! In the meantime, I will (im)patiently sit here and await whatever it is Louise Beech comes up with next because I just know it will be special once again.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Her third book, Maria in the Moon, was widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice.

Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

Author links : Twitter | Website

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Perfect Silence by Helen Fields @Helen_Fields @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K #blogtour #PerfectSilence

Good morning from a still glorious but slightly cloudy Tuscany! I’m thrilled to join the blog tour for Perfect Silence by Helen Fields today! My thanks to Sabah Khan at Avon for the invitation to join and for the review copy.

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Author : Helen Fields
Title : Perfect Silence
Series : DI Luc Callanach #4
Pages : 432
Publisher : Avon UK
Publication date : August 23, 2018

aboutthebook

When silence falls, who will hear their cries?

The body of a young girl is found dumped on the roadside on the outskirts of Edinburgh. When pathologists examine the remains, they make a gruesome discovery: the silhouette of a doll carved in the victim’s skin.

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are struggling to find leads in the case, until a doll made of skin is found nestled beside an abandoned baby.

After another young woman is found butchered, Luc and Ava realise the babydoll killer is playing a horrifying game. And it’s only a matter of time before he strikes again. Can they stop another victim from being silenced forever – or is it already too late?

mythoughts

Three words : read this NOW! You can thank me later.

If you’re a crime fiction fan, then the DI Luc Callanach series is undoubtedly one you should be reading. I’ve loved and enjoyed this series from the start and anxiously await a new addition every time because I just know I’ll be in for a treat.

That said though, if you’re of the faint-hearted variety, this may not quite be for you as you’ll need a bit of a strong stomach for this one. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’ve read any of the previous books.

The body of a young woman is found. Her death seems to have been a particularly gruesome one and the silhouette of a doll is carved into her skin. Detectives are having a hard time finding any clues or leads and then the doll made of skin is found near to where another young woman has gone missing. There’s no doubt there’s a serial killer roaming the streets. They’re playing a horrific game and are obviously on a mission. Can DI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach find the culprit before another young woman goes missing?

Perfect Silence is dark, chilling and disturbing, as I’ve come to expect from this series. Some chapters are written from the victims’ point of view, which were heartbreaking to read and made me choke up. It felt all too easy to imagine what it would be like to find yourself stuck in such a horrendous situation.

As for the serial killer, Helen Fields kept me guessing until the end. I couldn’t at all figure out their identity, their motivations or how they were selecting their victims in the first place. The race to find this murderer is incredibly tense and the ultimate reveal and somehow rather fascinating reasoning behind it all, left me a little open-mouthed.

I feel it’s also worth mentioning that I’ve been Team Luc from the start but I must say, in this instalment it was Ava who stole the show for me. She’s always been a bit of a character I couldn’t quite put my finger on but this time around she completely won me over. I loved seeing a different side to her, sympathised with her, rooted for her and often got the wrong end of the stick, just like she did. But there is so much to admire about her.

This series has been blowing my mind since the very beginning and I feel it’s only been getting better with each book. Intensely gripping and massively engrossing, this is another belter from Helen Fields and I absolutely can’t wait for book five and more from Luc and Ava. You should all add this series to your TBR’s or shopping baskets right now, as it is indeed quite “perfect”.

Perfect Silence is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Helen Fields studied law at the University of East Anglia, then went on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London. After completing her pupillage, she joined chambers in Middle Temple where she practised criminal and family law for thirteen years. After her second child was born, Helen left the Bar.

Together with her husband David, she runs a film production company, acting as script writer and producer. Perfect Remains is set in Scotland, where Helen feels most at one with the world. Helen and her husband now live in Hampshire with their three children and two dogs.

Author links : Twitter

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Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia @MejiaWrites @QuercusBooks @ellakroftpatel #blogtour #LeaveNoTrace

Good morning from glorious and scorching hot Tuscany! Today, I’m delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia! My thanks to Ella Patel at Quercus for the invitation to join and for the wonderful review copy!

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Author : Mindy Mejia
Title : Leave No Trace
Pages : 336
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : September 4, 2018

aboutthebook

Ten years ago Josiah Blackthorn and his son trekked into the wilderness of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters and vanished. Now one of them has returned.

Lucas Blackthorn, the boy who came back from the dead, is nineteen, semi-feral and violent. He is now incarcerated in Congdon Psychiatric Institute and the police are desperate to hear his story. All Lucas wants is to return to his home and his father.

Therapist Maya Stark has her own unfinished business with the Boundary Waters, and as she and Lucas grow closer she sees a chance for them to help each other.

She is prepared to risk everything to get answers to the questions that have haunted her for all her adult life. But sometimes finding out the truth is the worst thing you can do …

mythoughts

I absolutely loved Mindy Mejia’s previous novel, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman, so I was incredibly excited at being given the opportunity to join the blog tour for her latest release, Leave No Trace. I’ll tell you right now though, this is nothing like her previous novel! I love it when an author takes me by surprise.

Ten years ago, Josiah Blackthorn and his son trekked into the wilderness, only to vanish. But now, Josiah’s son Lucas has returned.  Lucas is now nineteen years old and finds himself incarcerated in a psychiatric institute. He doesn’t talk and all he really wants is to return to his father.

Maya Stark is a speech therapist at the psychiatric institute and it’s her job to get Lucas to talk. Is he keeping quiet because he doesn’t know how to talk?  Or is he just being stubborn? Maya is haunted by past events herself. Will meeting Lucas bring her the answers she has so desperately been searching for?

Leave No Trace is very different from Mindy Mejia’s previous novel but as ever, it’s immensely beautifully written. The vivid descriptions of the Boundary Waters in Minnesota really bring the place to life and almost made me want to go out on a hike or grab a canoe. I say almost, because you know, water and creepy-crawlies. But there’s also the peace and tranquility, not another person in sight, just gorgeous Mother Nature all around you. Bliss. Living off the grid obviously isn’t for everyone but Mindy Mejia took inspiration from people who’ve actually done so, for various reasons, and I do so enjoy it when an author makes me want to google things.

Despite it’s relatively slow pace, I was captivated by the exquisite storytelling. There is some fascinating character development to sink your teeth into and even a few twists and surprises. Some I may have figured out but that did nothing to ruin my reading experience, nor did the fact that maybe a few things might have required me to suspend belief just a tad.  Leave No Trace is a compelling mystery and I was swept away by this tale of love, family and loss from start to finish.

I must say, I’m fast becoming a fan of Mindy Mejia’s work and remain impressed with her excellent storytelling skills. I’m incredibly curious to see what she comes up with next.

Leave No Trace is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

My name is Mindy Mejia and I’m a writer. I write because, ever since I was six years old, my favorite game has been pretend. My life doesn’t have symmetry, theme, symbolism, or meditated beauty and I gravitate toward these things like a houseplant to the sun. I love the perfect words; I love how “fierce” and “confounded” and “swagger” look on the page and how my chest expands when I read them. I write because I believe in the reality of my fantasies, the truth in my fabrications. I’ve always had stories sneaking around my head, thrillers like THE DRAGON KEEPER and EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE, and sometimes I inhabit those stories more than my own life. (Best not to mention that last part to my husband, kids, or boss.)

Author links : Twitter

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The Rival by Charlotte Duckworth @charduck @QuercusBooks

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Author : Charlotte Duckworth
Title : The Rival
Pages : 400
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : September 1, 2018 (ebook)

aboutthebook

NOW:
Living in her home in the countryside Helena is a career woman without a job and a mother without a baby. She blames Ashley for destroying her life. But is what happened really Ashley’s fault?

THEN:
When Helena hires Ashley to work with her, she’s startled but impressed by her fierce ambition. They form a dream team and Helena is proud – maybe this is the protégé she’s always wanted to have? But soon Helena realises that nothing will stand in the way of Ashley’s drive to get to the top. And when Helena discovers she is pregnant, she quickly realises how vulnerable her position is, with devastating consequences.

mythoughts

When I picked up The Rival I was in the most grumpy mood. I’d had little sleep the night before, my day had been turned upside down by interruptions and distractions and I had a headache. All this meant it took me five hours to read a mere 50 pages. Why am I telling you this, you wonder? Because that extremely grumpy mood only became worse the second I was introduced to Ashley and I’m still not entirely sure if my dislike of her was something the author meant to happen or if I was in the wrong state of mind to form a fair opinion of her.

We meet Ashley on her first day at a new job for a make-up company. It’s obvious from the start that she is a fiercely ambitious young woman. She knows what she wants and she’ll do whatever it takes to get it. Nothing wrong with that. But she also comes across as a bit sneaky, devious, selfish and slightly ruthless. Or does she? Her boss, Helena, initially enjoys working with her. But she soon realises Ashley will stop at nothing to succeed. And when Helena falls pregnant, things take a turn for the worse.

It’s no secret that something happens between these two women. Helena blames Ashley for ruining her life, for being a career woman without a job and a mother without a baby. But what exactly happened? Is Ashley truly to blame?

The Rival is told in three parts, from two points of view and switching back between the past and the present. This works incredibly well and I was trying ridiculously hard to pick up clues and unravel the mystery. But I wasn’t at all prepared for the way events ultimately unfolded and it left me reeling, questioning everything, feeling I’d misjudged some things along the way.

This story of female ambition and rivalry is well-paced and although I wouldn’t call it particularly tense, it is full of intrigue and suspense and part three had me flipping the pages faster and faster. It completely made me forget how tired and grumpy I felt and I was determined to finish it before bedtime. Sure, maybe Ashley has the rather typical background to explain why she is the way she is but that didn’t really bother me.

I think this a cracking debut by Charlotte Duckworth and I loved how it combined a psychologic thriller feel with the challenges of pregnancy and motherhood. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and very much look forward to what this author comes up with next.

The Rival is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

The Angel’s Mark by S.W. Perry @swperry_history @CorvusBooks @annecater @RandomThingsTours #blogtour #TheAngelsMark

It’s a real pleasure to host a stop on the blog tour for The Angel’s Mark by S.W. Perry today! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my review copy.

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Author : S.W. Perry
Title : The Angel’s Mark
Pages : 414
Publisher : Corvus
Publication date : September 6, 2018

aboutthebook

LONDON, 1590. Queen Elizabeth I’s control over her kingdom is wavering. Amidst a tumultuous backdrop of Spanish plotters, Catholic heretics and foreign wars threatening the country’s fragile stability, the body of a small boy is found in the City of London, with strange marks that no one can explain.

When idealistic physician Nicholas Shelby finds another body displaying the same marks only days later, he becomes convinced that a killer is at work, preying on the weak and destitute of London.

Determined to find out who is behind these terrible murders, Nicholas is joined in his investigations by Bianca, a mysterious tavern keeper. As more bodies are discovered, the pair find themselves caught in the middle of a sinister plot. With the killer still at large, and Bianca in terrible danger, Nicholas’s choice seems impossible – to save Bianca, or save himself…

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The Angel’s Mark takes us from the dirty and grimy streets of London in the late 1500’s to the opulence of Nonsuch Palace, on a quest to find a serial killer.

A young boy’s body is pulled from the river Thames. With deformed lower limbs, it looks as if he was merely discarded. Nobody seems to know who he is, nor care about what happened to him. Except for physician Nicholas Shelby, an expectant father, who notices a mark on the young boy’s leg during an anatomy lecture. Nicholas is determined to investigate. Until a bereavement casts doubt on everything he thought he knew and he falls into a deep pit of despair.

Then he meets Bianca, a tavern keeper, although she is far more than that. And when more bodies with the same mark on their leg start to show up, Nicholas and Bianca find themselves in the middle of a dark and sinister plot. Can they find the killer before they claim another victim? And will they escape with their lives?

I do love me some historical fiction and this is done particularly well. Set during a rather tumultuous time in the Elizabethan era, The Angel’s Mark oozes atmosphere. S.W. Perry has very clearly done his research and with vivid descriptions of the sights, sounds and smells of the streets of London, I quickly felt myself completely transported.

For us modern readers, it’s not always easy to understand what life was like in those days. Not only is there the relentless hunt for catholic heretics and people hiding their true religion, but there are also a lot of misconceptions. Physicians draw up astrological charts, for instance, to help with a diagnosis. What we know now about the human body, was awfully incomplete at the time, including how blood travels around the body. Despite the fact a woman held an incredibly prestigious position at the university of Padua years earlier, women were not allowed in the field of medicine and any use of even herbal concoctions would quickly earn them the label of witch.

Despite finding the beginning of the novel a bit on the slow side, I found myself utterly captivated. Full of deceit and conspiracies and with no idea who to trust, the author kept me guessing until the end as I couldn’t at all figure out the who or the why. The Angel’s Mark is brilliantly written, cleverly plotted and an absolutely wonderful historical fiction serial killer mystery. This is S.W. Perry’s debut novel and it promises a whole lot of good things in the future.

The Angel’s Mark is out today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

S. W. Perry was a journalist and broadcaster before retraining as an airline pilot. He lives in Worcestershire with his wife and two spaniels. 

Author links : Twitter

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This Week in Books (September 5)

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This week is getting completely away from me! I’m so ridiculously busy and my reading is taking a massive beating.

Last book I finished reading

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Liv died when she was just six years old. At least, that’s what the authorities think.

Her father knew he was the only one who could keep her safe in this world. So one evening he left the isolated house his little family called home, he pushed their boat out to sea and watched it ruin on the rocks. Then he walked the long way into town to report his only child missing.

But behind the boxes and the baskets crowding her Dad’s workshop, Liv was hiding. This way her Dad had said, she’d never have to go to school; this way, she’d never have to leave her parents.

This way, Liv would be safe.

[Such an absolutely amazing story! Dark and heartbreaking but beautifully written!]


The book I’m currently reading

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When silence falls, who will hear their cries?

The body of a young girl is found dumped on the roadside on the outskirts of Edinburgh. When pathologists examine the remains, they make a gruesome discovery: the silhouette of a doll carved in the victim’s skin.

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are struggling to find leads in the case, until a doll made of skin is found nestled beside an abandoned baby.

After another young woman is found butchered, Luc and Ava realise the babydoll killer is playing a horrifying game. And it’s only a matter of time before he strikes again. Can they stop another victim from being silenced forever – or is it already too late?

[I started this on Monday and I’m still only halfway! Bloody universe messing with my reading time. Anyway, another fabulous addition to the series! Not for the faint-hearted!]


What I’m (possibly) reading next

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You need to know who your husband really was…

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…

When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.

Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…

[At the rate I’m going, “next” will probably not be until Sunday but still, I am SO looking forward to this one. I can’t wait to see what devilish tale Michael J. Malone has come up with this time!]

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I’m so sorry for not being very social this week. Did I mention I’m insanely busy? I’m still trying to share as many of your blog posts as I possibly can but unfortunately, I don’t have the time to leave comments or to interact with you guys on Twitter. I hope my “liking” your posts and tweets shows you how much I do appreciate everything! Normal service will resume when I’m back from holiday.

What exciting things are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx